‘Bang’ Targets Audience with Tough Topics

'Bang' Targets Audience with Tough Topics

By Catherine Wiesehuegel, Reporter

Bang by Barry Lyga is a topical book that not only tackles the woes of being a teen, but also discusses gun violence in a context that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

The story starts with a single emboldened sentence — “And the thing is this: I don’t even remember doing it.” Beginning with such a shocking sentence leaves the reader immediately expecting a tragedy, and a tragedy is what they get. Sebastian Cody has always known he was the one who killed his little sister when he was just four. His classmates have always known, his parents have always known, and his teachers have always known about the fateful day he leveled a .357 Magnum at his baby sister’s head and pulled the trigger, not realizing what would happen.

10 years later and the rest of the town still gives him the side-eye, leaving him with only one friend. With his best and only friend gone for the summer, Sebastian stumbles across the new girl in town, Aneesa Fahim, who is just as much an outcast as him. Despite a rocky start, the two become inseparable as the summer progresses, eventually starting a YouTube channel together. As their friendship grows, Sebastian develops feelings for Aneesa, and it leaves him conflicted about his plans to end his life.

With a storyline relatable to the average teen, this novel speaks to its readers. In spite of facing the average high school dilemmas including unpopularity, relationship struggles, and parental pressures, Sebastian discovers a beauty to life he’d never experienced before through his friendship with Aneesa. She shows him that everyone is different for a reason, even if he can’t see why just yet.

The book’s treatment of gun violence and depression is also powerful and moving to the core. Through the relatability of his teenage struggles, the reader can identify with his struggle, and thus understand his past trauma. Sebastian’s guilt weighs on him like a plague he can’t cure, and the reader feels that guilt in every word. He feels as though one bullet ruined his life, and another one could finally end it. He constantly apologizes, feeling as though he can’t do anything right and that any misfortune that occurs is one way or another his fault.

With twists you’ll never see coming, Bang reduced me to tears on multiple occasions. Its treatment of the teenage condition and gun violence is moving and inspiring, showing the human behind a tragedy. I recommend this book to anyone who has been through a tough time or suffered depression themselves.